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Tekdata Interconnections has been awarded a major contract from Northrop Grumman to provide wiring harnesses for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) programme.

Tekdata will provide technical expertise and build the high-specification cryogenic wiring harnesses that will connect parts of the JWST in orbit.

The Webb Telescope, a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, will be NASA’s premier space observatory following its launch in 2013.

It will orbit at 1.5 million km from Earth at the second Earth-Sun Lagrange point, capturing infrared images of every phase of our cosmic history – from the first luminous objects to the assembly of galaxies and formation of planetary systems.

With its tennis court-sized sunshield, the Webb Telescope needs complex harnesses to link the spacecraft’s systems, supplying power and data for the telescope’s alignment control systems as it orbits Earth in ultra-low temperatures.

Tekdata will build a range of test harnesses and preflight cables before supplying the flight harnesses for integration into the spacecraft.

Roy Blake, Tekdata’s JWST technical lead, says: ‘This expertise includes solutions derived from other Tekdata projects using our Cryoconnect technologies involving superconducting materials, ultra-fine-gauge wire fabrication processes and planar structures to achieve optimal electrical performance and repeatability.’ The Webb Telescope programme is an international collaboration led by NASA, and includes partners from the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency; Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor to NASA.

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